From “agenda” to “relationship”: an update to my bilingual parenting journey

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(Photo courtesy of Futureatlas.com, Flickr Creative Commons)

Last year I wrote about my then two-year old daughter’s language development in Spanish. My husband, D., a native of Spain, and I are raising our two children bilingually: our family’s language policy is Spanish at home/among us four and English with everyone else.

With the arrival of my daughter E. three years ago, I began my bilingual parenting journey with what some might call a “hard core” approach: use only Spanish with my children, all the time. Never English. No translating. Promote, promote, promote the minority language.

As a trained linguist, I can cite all of the research supporting bilingualism. I recognize the advantages of a family language policy that supports the minority language.

And, while I’ll be the first to raise my hand with an emphatic YES! to the benefits of being bilingual, I have to admit that my initial approach to raising bilingual children rested on nothing less than fear and control.

Constantly running through my mind were thoughts like, One day she’ll realize that English is the majority language and hate Spanish!, or, She’ll probably refuse to speak the minority language to me when she’s older, or, What if she never becomes fluent in Spanish?, or, I will never use one word of English in front of her so that she is never tempted to speak it with me.

Fear and control.

I bought book after book for E. in Spanish, I devoured all the parent “how-to” books on raising bilingual children, I joined Facebook groups, I made sure to FaceTime daily with our relatives in Spain. I even started a blog on bilingual parenting!

Fast forward three years later to today. Continue reading

¡Hola! {Book Review + Author Interview}

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Happy Friday, amig@s! The weekend is here, and for me that means more time to READ! If you’re like me, always looking for a good book to read (both for yourself and for your children), then you’ll love today’s post.

Author and former language teacher, Judy Martialay, sent me a copy of her children’s book ¡Hola! Let’s Learn Spanish a few weeks ago, and the minute I got my hands on it, I knew I wanted to share it with you all.

Designed to introduce children between the ages of six and 11 to the Spanish language and Hispanic culture, this book would make a great addition to your home library. Here’s what I love about it:

  1. Child-focused and friendly – Although it’s meant to teach children basic Spanish words, phrases, and cultural knowledge, it’s written in a way that you, the parent, could simply give it to your child to read on her own. There are colorful illustrations, craft ideas, and a fun story of cultural exploration and adventure (meet Pete the Pilot and Panchito!).
  2. Designed for the non-native speaker of Spanish – I can already think of several non-native Spanish-speaking family friends of mine who I’d love to pass this book on to, families that are eager to expose their children to introductory Spanish. I would feel totally comfortable giving this book to these parents (who don’t speak the language themselves) because it presents the language in a natural and non-threatening way. For example, the story about Pete the Pilot and Panchito is written in 90% English with one or two Spanish words sprinkled throughout each paragraph.
  3. Culturally sensitive – It’s clear that Judy took her time to research México, the culture highlighted in the book. There is a section entitled Rincón Cultural, in which she explains in clear, child-friendly language the type of Spanish used, typical food, customs, and celebrations.

And, of course, behind every book is an author. Judy graciously agreed to tell us a bit about her professional background, experience raising bilingual children, and why she believes every child should learn a second language.

Read on, amig@s, and be encouraged!

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Continue reading

Promoting bilingualism in my local community: story time

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(Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, catnip studio)

Thank you friends for patiently wait as I took a short break from blogging since November. I needed a break so much I didn’t even announce the break. Now I’m back, and it feels good.

In my last post I did mention that I would write a follow-up on ways I’ve changed how I perceive and relate to my daughter, based on reading María Montessori’s book The Secret of Childhood. I’m half way through that post, so stay tuned.

In the meantime…

Very few people in our neighborhood speak Spanish, our family’s home language, and E.’s current dominant language.

While most friends, family, and neighbors in our community generally express support for our choice to raise E. bilingual, few actually speak the language with and around her. I appreciate the positive reception to our family’s lifestyle, but for a while now I’ve wanted to do more.

How can I go beyond enumerating the benefits of bilingualism with friends at parties to actively promoting it – and even encouraging others to join in on the fun? I’ve thought.

And, then it came to me. Story time at our neighborhood library. In Spanish! Continue reading

Our 2 weeks with Waldorf {Summary of my daughter’s schooling in Spain}

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Many of my friends and family were shocked when I told them that E. – with me – would be attending a Spanish preschool for two weeks during our trip to Madrid.

“But, what kind of vacation is that for a child?!!”

“Wow! How did you make that happen?”

“Aren’t children supposed to…play??”

I’d laugh and remind them although rest and relaxation would be a welcome afterthought, the two main goals of our month-long trip were time spent with family and friends, and language immersion.

And, what better way for a 20-month old to absorb and use the language than with other native speakers her age through play? Hence: preschool! Continue reading

It’s coming! #España2015

bullfightingIt’s official!

We bought our plane tickets to Spain this fall! Yes, our first trip as a family of three to the land of jamón serrano, tortilla de patatas, and no humidity!

Thirty whole days. That’s right: one entire month. I can hardly contain myself.

I’ve already given the trip its own hashtag (so, be sure to follow me on twitter @espanolita and Instagram @espanolitablog).

#España2015 Continue reading

A conversation with bilingual children’s author Delia Berlin (Family Fridays)

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(Photo via Carissa Rogers, Flickr CC)

¡Feliz viernes, amig@s!

Welcome back for another edition of our Family Fridays series here on the blog. This series features multilingual families from all over the globe, as well as other important friends (authors, singers, just to name a few) in the greater community who help and encourage us parents along the way. You can check out past installments in this series by clicking on the category FAMILIES on the right.

Today, I’m honored to introduce you to bilingual mother, grandmother, and author, Delia Berlin. Originally from Argentina, Delia has made the United States her home for the past forty years. My conversation with her today includes her personal journey with bilingualism, the role language plays in her family’s life, and her work as author of several bilingual books for children.

Be encouraged, friends. ¡Buen fin de semana! Continue reading

My interview with bilingual children’s literature author, Elena Bertocco & GIVEAWAY!

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And…I’m back, amig@s!!

Although I normally blog on Tuesdays and Fridays, I was unable to write this past Friday due to an unexpected emergency with a dear friend from El Salvador (all is well now!). Thanks for sticking with me.

Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Elena Bertocco, author of several bilingual Italian/English children’s books. In my conversation with her today she shares a bit about her journey from working in the fashion industry to writing stories about the Broccoli family. She also shares her own adventures in bilingual parenting with her husband and three children Down Under (Australia).

Lastly, she has graciously agreed to participate in a GIVEAWAY of one of her bilingual children’s E-books. So, be sure to participate by clicking on the Rafflecopter link BELOW! The giveaway runs from today until this Friday at 12am., and it’s open to ALL OF MY READERS, NEAR AND FAR!  Continue reading